By Peta Liston Owens

A four part series

 

While comfortably ensconced in the backseat of a van heading from Green River to the White Rim trailhead, our guide dispersed some handouts to familiarize ourselves with the “do’s and don’ts” of mountain biking this 100-mile trail that runs deep into Canyonlands National Park. “Pump your brakes going downhill;” “drink before you’re thirsty, eat before you’re hungry;” “Ride predictably, defensively, and in a straight line.”

Though the typed, practical advice proved to be worthwhile suggestions, I learn by doing. Pushing pedal hour after hour, day after day, through terrain that felt at times like I had been painted into it—scenery so flawless you had to do double takes to ensure you saw it right—presented me with additional advice. The kind of advice that is felt from the inside out;  deep down you know it, you just need the space and time and natural environment to remember it.

 

Part 1  “Look to Where You Want To Go”

I remember this advice from a friend some 15 years ago when I first put butt to bike seat on a dirt trail. It seemed too simple, but every time I’ve tested it, it has proved true. Whether it is road ruts or a rocky drop off, if I focus on where I want to be and not on where I’m afraid of going, my bike mysteriously heads the way I need to go. I’ve never forgotten this advice, because it has proved true in life as well. Not that I’m a quick learner. I’ve spent more time than I want to admit spinning my wheels and going nowhere. Why? Because my thoughts were focused on what I didn’t want to happen, or who I was angry at, or what I feared happening…

Riding the White Rim wasn’t always easy. It took stamina, concentration, some guts at times, but it was increasingly empowering. Each day, I trusted my bike and my skills more. Yes, my bike could roll over rocks and take corners that I at first feared would stump the bike, pop the tire, or lay me out on the ground. The more I trusted my bike, myself, and focused on where I wanted to take the two of us (we became quite close), the stronger and faster I got. As we all know, life can throw some humbling obstacles into your path, but I was reminded that if you focus on where you want to go, you can navigate your way through these obstacles and keep movin’ along.

 

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